Thursday, June 28, 2007

Michael Moore: Sicko

(Courtesy of Martha. Cinemark theaters has canceled its showing of Sicko in Lexington this week... the unofficial word on the streets is that they are claiming it is because they wouldn't get an audience? Watching this film I am made sick at the thought of how passive American citizens are in allowing corporations and their puppet politicians gut our healthcare system in order to reap gross profits. This is a brilliant film and Moore carefully outlines the problem and possible solutions!)

To watch Sicko online

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Shins: Phantom Limb

"Phantom Limb" by The Shins

Save Independent Web Radio

(Message from Grey Lodge)

Tonite's broadcast of NO OTHER RADIO NETWORK on KPFA, hosted by Russ Kent (aka
'Mr. Hate'), will only be available to hear via your radio dial . KPFA will be
turning their webstreams silent in a movement of virtual shutdown.
Write your rep's, spread the word.... !!

Save Net Radio
Save Web Radio
Not the Radio

Bay area (CA):
KPFA 94.1 FM
KPFB 89.3

KFCF Fresno
KPFK Los Angeles
WBAI New York
KPFT Houston
WPFW Washington, DC


KPFA's Webcasts to Go Silent in Protest of Royalty Rate Increase
Non-commercial Radio Listeners Urged to Contact Congressional Representatives

(Berkeley, CA – June 22, 2007) KPFA will join thousands of U.S. webcasters in a
Day of Silence this Tuesday, June 26. KPFA will silence its regular Internet
broadcasts to draw attention to an impending royalty rate increase that, if
implemented, would lead to the virtual shutdown of this country's Internet radio

A recent Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) decision increases royalties that
commercial Internet webcasters pay to play music by up to 1200%. The new rates
take effect on July 15. Non-commercial stations, such as KPFA, will be required
to pay royalties at the commercial rate for any listeners they have over a limit
defined by the CRB, about 215 listeners per hour.

"It's particularly onerous that non-commercial webcasters will have to pay the
same rates, past a certain low threshold, as commercial stations", says KPFA's
interim program director Sasha Lilley. "KPFA may be forced to cap the number of
people who can listen to us online".

The CRB decision also requires that webcasters pay a minimum $500
"administrative fee" for every channel they broadcast online, without clearly
defining what a channel is, or what the fees are to be used for. These arbitrary
and vaguely defined "administrative fees" would cost KPFA thousands of dollars a

“At this point no one seems quite sure what the additional fees will be or even
how to calculate what we would owe,” says Bonnie Simmons, a veteran KPFA DJ,
“The accounting process itself may cost us more than we can possibly afford.”

KPFA urges listeners to contact their Congressional representatives and ask that
they take action to save Internet radio. The Internet Radio Equality Act, H.R.
2060, has been introduced by Representatives Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) and Don
Manzullo (R-Ill.) to address many of the problems with the CRB decision. A
companion bill, S.B. 1353, has been introduced in the Senate. “We are urging
Congress to take action to overturn the CRB decision,” says Michael Manoochehri,
KPFA Web Director, “Legislation has been put in place, but without immediate
action by Congress, the legislation will not be voted on before the July 15th

For many years, KPFA has featured artists who are not normally heard on
commercial radio. KPFA Music Director, Luis Medina, describes KPFA's music shows
as “programming that is innovative, fresh and cutting edge,” adding, “KPFA's
music programmers have the freedom to go beyond the standards set by other radio
stations handicapped by commercial obligations and restrictive play lists.”

To learn more about how the royalty hikes will affect KPFA, as well as how to
contact Congressional Representatives, visit Save Web Radio, or

bigCityOrchestre web
women take back the noise
no other radio network

Grey Lodge

God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh.- Voltaire

"The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If
you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use
the words."
--From How to Build A Universe That Won’t Fall Apart in Two Days by Philip K.


There was a place called the Conspiracy Cafe. Shelves filled with books, film
reels, sound tapes, official government reports in blue binders. She wanted to
have a coffee and browse but he waved the place off- a series of sterile
exercises. He believed the wellsprings were deeper and less detectable, deeper
and shallower both, look at billboards and matchbooks, trademarks on products,
birthmarks on bodies, look at the behavior of your pets.

Something's staring you straight in the face.

50 High School Presidential Scholars Confront President Bush on Torture at Media Conference

High School Scholars Confront Bush on Torture
Posted by Adam Howard

Bush thought he was doing a standard photo-op, but 50 high school scholars had a different idea.

To Read the Post


Interactivist Info Exchange: Collaborative Authorship, Collective Intelligence

Imposters posing as ExxonMobil and National Petroleum Council (NPC) representatives delivered an outrageous keynote speech to 300 oilmen at GO-EXPO, Canada's largest oil conference, held at Stampede Park in Calgary, Alberta, today.

The speech was billed beforehand by the GO-EXPO organizers as the major highlight of this year's conference, which had 20,000 attendees. In it, the "NPC rep" was expected to deliver the long-awaited conclusions of a study commissioned by US Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman. The NPC is headed by former ExxonMobil CEO Lee Raymond, who is also the chair of the study.

In the actual speech, the "NPC rep" announced that current U.S. and Canadian energy policies (notably the massive, carbon-intensive exploitation of Alberta's oil sands, and the development of liquid coal) are increasing the chances of huge global calamities. But he reassured the audience that in the worst case scenario, the oil industry could "keep fuel flowing" by transforming the billions of people who die into oil.

"We need something like whales, but infinitely more abundant," said "NPC rep" "Shepard Wolff" (actually Andy Bichlbaum of the Yes Men), before describing the technology used to render human flesh into a new Exxon oil product called Vivoleum. 3-D animations of the process brought it to life.

"Vivoleum works in perfect synergy with the continued expansion of fossil fuel production," noted "Exxon rep" "Florian Osenberg" (Yes Man Mike Bonanno). "With more fossil fuels comes a greater chance of disaster, but that means more feedstock for Vivoleum. Fuel will continue to flow for those of us left."

The oilmen listened to the lecture with attention, and then lit "commemorative candles" supposedly made of Vivoleum obtained from the flesh of an "Exxon janitor" who died as a result of cleaning up a toxic spill. The audience only reacted when the janitor, in a video tribute, announced that he wished to be transformed into candles after his death, and all became crystal-clear.

At that point, Simon Mellor, Commercial & Business Development Director for the company putting on the event, strode up and physically forced the Yes Men from the stage. As Mellor escorted Bonanno out the door, a dozen journalists surrounded Bichlbaum, who, still in character as "Shepard Wolff," explained to them the rationale for Vivoleum.

"We've got to get ready. After all, fossil fuel development like that of my company is increasing the chances of catastrophic climate change, which could lead to massive calamities, causing migration and conflicts that would likely disable the pipelines and oil wells. Without oil we could no longer produce or transport food, and most of humanity would starve. That would be a tragedy, but at least all those bodies could be turned into fuel for the rest of us."

"We're not talking about killing anyone," added the "NPC rep." "We're talking about using them after nature has done the hard work. After all, 150,000 people already die from climate-change related effects every year. That's only going to go up - maybe way, way up. Will it all go to waste? That would be cruel."

Security guards then dragged Bichlbaum away from the reporters, and he and Bonanno were detained until Calgary Police Service officers could arrive. The policemen, determining that no major infractions had been committed, permitted the Yes Men to leave.

Canada's oil sands, along with "liquid coal," are keystones of Bush's Energy Security plan. Mining the oil sands is one of the dirtiest forms of oil production and has turned Canada into one of the world's worst carbon emitters. The production of "liquid coal" has twice the carbon footprint as that of ordinary gasoline. Such technologies increase the likelihood of massive climate catastrophes that will condemn to death untold millions of people, mainly poor.

"If our idea of energy security is to increase the chances of climate calamity, we have a very funny sense of what security really is," Bonanno said. "While ExxonMobil continues to post record profits, they use their money to persuade governments to do nothing about climate change. This is a crime against humanity."

"Putting the former Exxon CEO in charge of the NPC, and soliciting his advice on our energy future, is like putting the wolf in charge of the flock," said "Shepard Wolff" (Bichlbaum). "Exxon has done more damage to the environment and to our chances of survival than any other company on earth. Why should we let them determine our future?"

About the NPC and ExxonMobil
About the Alberta oil sands
The Yes Men


The Yes Men

Link to Original Post

Monday, June 25, 2007

Supporting The Matthew Shepard Act

One in six hate crimes are motivated by the victim's sexual orientation. Yet Federal laws don't protect these people. Watch the video. Then tell your Senators to support the Matthew Shepard Act.

Watch the Video and Sign the Petition

Julie Winkor: Bad Medicine

Bad Medicine: Ruthless Health Care Policy in America
By Julie Winokur

Collateral Damage: Bad Medicine in Tennessee, a new film by Julie Winokur, explores the single largest Medicaid cuts in history -- a failed "reform" attempt that left 170,000 people without care almost overnight.

When one of us hurts, all of us hurt. That's the message in Collateral Damage: Bad Medicine in Tennessee, a compelling 25-minute film by Julie Winokur of Talking Eyes Media. Collateral Damage captures the suffering caused by the single largest Medicaid cuts in history. It exposes the injustice of a ruthless health care policy that refuses to regulate the managed care organizations and puts people's lives at risk.

In 2005, when Governor Phil Bredesen of Tennessee announced he would reform his state's Medicaid program, people took him at his word. Little did they know that Bredesen's idea of reform meant cutting 170,000 people off the program almost overnight.

The size and speed of the cuts were unprecedented; the suffering they caused was immeasurable. The sickest, neediest people were denied medical care while the nation sat by and watched. Meanwhile, the Governor boasted to other heads of states about his success reigning in the rising cost of health care. This intense, moving film asks how, in the richest nation in the world, people can die every day because they lack access to health care.

To Watch the Trailer for the Documentary

Lou Reed: Perfect Day

"Perfect Day" by Lou Reed

  • "you're going to reap, just what you sow"--great reminder. I live for days like this :) come on, join me, in search of another one...

    Jennifer Delahunty Britz: To All the Girls I've Rejected

    (Courtesy of Teresa)

    To All the Girls I've Rejected
    New York Times

    A FEW days ago I watched my daughter Madalyn open a thin envelope from one of the five colleges to which she had applied. "Why?" was what she was obviously asking herself as she handed me the letter saying she was waitlisted.

    Why, indeed? She had taken the toughest courses in her high school and had done well, sat through several Saturday mornings taking SAT's and the like, participated in the requisite number of extracurricular activities, written a heartfelt and well-phrased essay and even taken the extra step of touring the campus.

    She had not, however, been named a National Merit finalist, dug a well for a village in Africa, or climbed to the top of Mount Rainier. She is a smart, well-meaning, hard-working teenage girl, but in this day and age of swollen applicant pools that are decidedly female, that wasn't enough. The fat acceptance envelope is simply more elusive for today's accomplished young women.

    I know this well. At my own college these days, we have three applicants for every one we can admit. Just three years ago, it was two to one. Though Kenyon was a men's college until 1969, more than 55 percent of our applicants are female, a proportion that is steadily increasing. My staff and I carefully read these young women's essays about their passion for poetry, their desire to discover vaccines and their conviction that they can make the world a better place.

    I was once one of those girls applying to college, but that was 30 years ago, when applying to college was only a tad more difficult than signing up for a membership at the Y. Today, it's a complicated and prolonged dance that begins early, and for young women, there is little margin for error: A grade of C in Algebra II/Trig? Off to the waitlist you go.

    Rest assured that admissions officers are not cavalier in making their decisions. Last week, the 10 officers at my college sat around a table, 12 hours every day, deliberating the applications of hundreds of talented young men and women. While gulping down coffee and poring over statistics, we heard about a young woman from Kentucky we were not yet ready to admit outright. She was the leader/president/editor/captain/lead actress in every activity in her school. She had taken six advanced placement courses and had been selected for a prestigious state leadership program. In her free time, this whirlwind of achievement had accumulated more than 300 hours of community service in four different organizations.

    Few of us sitting around the table were as talented and as directed at age 17 as this young woman. Unfortunately, her test scores and grade point average placed her in the middle of our pool. We had to have a debate before we decided to swallow the middling scores and write "admit" next to her name.

    Had she been a male applicant, there would have been little, if any, hesitation to admit. The reality is that because young men are rarer, they're more valued applicants. Today, two-thirds of colleges and universities report that they get more female than male applicants, and more than 56 percent of undergraduates nationwide are women. Demographers predict that by 2009, only 42 percent of all baccalaureate degrees awarded in the United States will be given to men.

    To Read the Rest of the Op Ed Piece

    Rory O'Connor: Mirror, Mirror

    Mirror, Mirror: Journalism Takes a Look at Itself
    By Rory O'Connor

    When a small Idaho newspaper held a mirror up to their community and exposed rampant pedophilia, they paid a heavy price at first. But their courageous journalism eventually paid off.


    Miller's article in the Summer 2006 Issue of Nieman Reports, entitled "A Local Newspaper Endures a Stormy Backlash," tells an amazing story of how his paper exposed Boy Scout pedophiles and those who failed to kick them out of the scouting program," and how "three of our community's big forces ... the community's majority religion, the richest guys in town, and the conservative machine that controls Idaho," tried to punish the paper for doing so. Why? Because Miller and his team chose "to tell the story of powerless people who'd been hurt by powerful people who counted on the public never learning what they'd done."

    Here's what happened: after receiving a tip that a pedophile caught at a local scout camp in 1997 had not two victims (as the paper reported at the time) but actually dozens, Post Register reporters went to the courthouse to look for a civil suit filed by victims, only to be told that there was no such case. They later learned that the national Boy Scouts of America and its local Council had hired two of Idaho's best-connected law firms to seal the files -- thus covering up the entire affair.

    Or so they thought ... But the Post Register went to court and "dragged the case file into the light of day." What reporters found astonished them; scout leaders had been warned about the pedophile years earlier, but hired him (again!) anyway. Lawyers for the Boy Scouts knew about more victims, but never told those boys' parents. Top local and national leaders of the Mormon Church, which sponsors almost all area scout troops, had also been warned.

    The Post Register ran a six-day series about the affair. The first story featured a 14-year-old camper -- "the son of a Mormon seminary teacher and a cinch to become an Eagle Scout" -- who forced adult leaders to call the police about the pedophile.

    Then the backlash began. Mormon church members were among the first to complain, characterizing the paper's coverage as an attack on their faith. "The drums banged, and we were flooded with calls and e-mails and letters to the editor from readers who told us that holding the Grand Teton Council accountable was Mormon-bashing," Miller recounted.

    The backlash came as well from advertisers, and the economic pressure built everyday the paper ran the series. "It's one thing to lose an account when you're an employee," Miller wrote. "It's quite another when you're also a stockholder; 140 employees hold close to 49 percent of the company's stock. For many families, this is their retirement." Nevertheless, he recalled, "Most of what I heard inside our building were words of support." Publisher Roger Plothow was also staunchly unapologetic throughout, "standing up with a stoic and clear-eyed defense ... for the values of journalism."

    The attacks weren't just financial, but personal as well -- including the outing of a gay staff reporter, Peter Zuckerman, by a local multimillionaire who bought full-page ads devoting several paragraphs to establishing that Zuckerman is gay. "Strangers started ringing Peter's doorbell at midnight," Miller wrote. "His partner of five years was fired from his job. Despite the harassment, Peter kept coming to work and chasing down leads on other pedophiles ... I spoke at his church one Sunday and meant it when I said that I hope my son grows into as much of a man as Peter had."

    By then the paper had secured evidence of four other pedophiles in the local scout council, "about as many documented cases as the 500,000-member Catholic diocese of Boston when that scandal erupted in The Boston Globe," as Miller noted.

    Laboring in obscurity, and without Big Media resources, community journalists "often end up dreaming small," Miller wrote. "But my 34 colleagues at the Post Register -- in particular the cadre of editors who have worked together for a decade and lead a largely entry-level staff -- refused to pull back in the face of much opposition."

    In his Nieman report, Miller asks, "Was what any of us did courageous?" I'll say it was! Moreover, the story has a happy ending -- one all too uncommon in these days of massive layoffs, dwindling circulation, disruptive technologies and fears that the entire newspaper industry might be rapidly crumbling. I'll let Miller tell the tale: "One of the sweeter moments of our year occurred when we received figures from our circulation audit. While the sales numbers of other U.S. newspapers were in free fall, we were among the nation's faster growing daily papers."

    So what's the moral of this fairy tale? To Dean Miller and the other ordinary heroes at the Post Register, it's clear: "For us, these numbers testified to the value of fortitude. Publishing uncomfortable truths needn't be an act of hot-blooded courage; it should be a cool-headed exercise in focus: Find the civic heart of a story, steer a steady course to it, and serve the public's legitimate interests in openness and justice. Do that and, even when the story rocks your boat, trust that the waves won't capsize it."

    Link to the Rest of the Article

    Friday, June 22, 2007

    Larval Subjects: Meteorology as a Master-Science

    Meteorology as a Master-Science
    by larvalsubjects

    The Architecture of Theories

    At the beginning of his novel Gemini, Michel Tournier writes,

    On the twenty-fifth of September 1937, a depression moving from Newfoundland to the Baltic sent masses of warm, moist oceanic air into the corridor of the English Channel. At 5:19 P.M. a gust of wind from the west-southest uncovered the petticoat of old Henriette Puysoux, who was picking up potatos in her field; slapped the sun blind of the Cafe des Amis in Plancoet; banged a shutter on the house belonging to Dr. Bottereau alongside the wood of La Hunaudaie; turned over eight pages of Aristotle’s Meteorologica, which Michel Tournier was reading on the beach at Saint-Jacut; raised a cloud of dust and bits of straw on the road to Plelan; blew wet spray in the face of Jean Chauve as he was putting his boat out in the Bay of Arguenon; set the Pallet family’s underclothes bellying and dancing on the line where they were drying; started the wind pump racing at the Ferme des Mottes; and snatched a handful of gilded leaves off the silver birches in the garden of La Cassine. (9)

    What a beautiful way to begin a novel. The first thing to notice is the manner in which the events described here are dated. They occur at a particular time and in a particular place. Yet secondly, note the way in which this gust of wind pulls together a series of entities, linking them together despite their disparity.

    Okay, so maybe not a master-science, but rather a master-metaphor or a guiding metaphor for thought. For some time I’ve found myself increasingly frustrated with the terms “structure” and “system” as key terms for thinking social-formations. For me, structure evokes connotations of architecture. I think of architectural structures. I can draw them on a piece of paper, capturing the blue-print of the edifice that I’m trying to think about. If I have some talent in the discipline of topology, I can then imagine these structures undergoing free variation. Yet the problem is that structure, even in topography, remains relatively static and rigid. When I describe the Sears Tower I don’t really need to talk about the outside world, but just the organization of the tower and how all of its parts fit together. Matters are not much different in the case of systems. For instance, the paradigm of a system might be a bureaucracy, where there are a set number of protocols for processing inputs for producing a particular output.

    Both of these concepts strike me as too rigid, two subject to closure, for defining the historical present in which we exist. In his beautiful book Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization, the ethnographer Arjun Appadurai describes a set of social and cultural circumstances impacted by contemporary media technologies and mass migrations. How can we today speak of “architecture” or rigid structures in a contemporary setting where diverse codes are perpetually being brought into contact with one another through migration and communications technologies? Is it a mistake that the concepts of structure and system emerge right at that historical moment when migration brought on by the industrial revolution begins to erode these structures, calling them into question as a result of codes being scrambled everywhere? Does not structure appear at that precise moment when structure is disappearing? And might not the frantic search for structure and system everywhere be a symptom of the desire to make the Other exist, to put Humpty Dumpty back together again?

    Assembly Required

    Last night I had one of those thoughts that is probably best to never express out loud. “What,” I thought, “would the world look like if we imagined all entities that exist as variations of the weather?” This is really the sort of thought that can only occur to you when you’re in a sleepy, half drunken stupor, falling asleep on the couch while watching a show about the Galapagos Islands on National Geographic. I should say that meteorological metaphors have often appeared in my writing. In the past I’ve often made reference to phenomena such as hurricanes and tornadoes when trying to think about the nature of systems. On the one hand, hurricanes are of interest in that they have the status of quasi-things. Why is it that we’re inclined to think of a chair or rock as a thing or object, yet when it comes to a hurricane or a tornado we’re inclined to think of these things as events? It seems to me that what’s at issue here is a temporal prejudice or a prejudice pertaining to temporality. If a rock has the status of an object, then this is because it is a relatively slow moving and dense event. Rocks stick around for a long time. By contrast, even though a hurricane might stick around for days and weeks, they lack density and temporal longevity. Nonetheless, hurricanes do have qualities of organization and endurance, even if that organization or internal structure is relatively short-lived.

    Link to the Rest of the Essay

    Nougat Declares What Words Shall Not Be Used

    (This is a continuation of the local controversy surrounding the supposedly alternative--reminding us of how empty this concept is these days--publication's decision to censor the writings of its contributors. For the record we here at Dialogic do not find this amusing--we are offended by the tone and perspective of the author of this piece. It is not that we believe a publication doesn't have the right to put restrictions on the content it publishes, rather it is Nougat's posturing as Lexington's true alternative publication while at the same time attempting to court Lexington's monied elites through an attempt to erase any signs of unruly expression from the authors of Nougat. You can't do both... The reasoning stated for the new institution of these policies is that they mail the free publication to a Lexington neighborhood. For those outside the Lexington area, it is Chevy Chase, one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in town. The censor is worried that the residents may find offense and supposedly sue the publication. In reality the censor wishes to tap into wealthy patrons of the arts for profit and recognition. I have received reports of other angry and disgusted writers and editors who have quit because of the actions of this censor. The writers here at Dialogic would like to know what is this "reliable source" that the censor is relying on to develop this list of objectionable words? So what words are not acceptable for an ad-hungry, boot-licking, publisher...? If you make it to the bottom of this post I have left the phone# for Nougat and suggest that you call them up and offer suggestions of other words they should consider.)

    Hi All! It seems we need to clarify the policy on profanity. Those of you who have been paying attention already know this so you can feel free to zone out. OR you may read on possibly finding this amusing... There are some words you may never have thought of before. I downloaded these from a reliable source. If you use your imagination, you will realize that variations on these would not be permitted either. So, if you are unaware, the following are considered obscenities and are not allowed in Nougat: (the asides are mine)



    ass lick






    balls, unless referring to to baseballs, basketballs, cat toys and the like


    beastial, unless referring to an actual beast



    beaver, unless referring to a furry dam (not damn-building creature
    with a large flat tail

    belly whacker



    bitch, unless referring to a female dog






    blow job





    brown eye



    bucket cunt

    bull shit



    bung hole



    butt breath

    butt fucker

    butt hair








    christ, why does no one ever shout, "Buddah!"?

    circle jerk



    cobia, what is this?





























    damn, although I think damnation is sometimes appropriate

    dick, unless you are referring to Richard in the diminutive.

    dike, unless you are referring to a dam (not damn) like structure



    dinks--another what the hell is this?



    douche bag













    faggot, unless you are referring to firewood




    fags, unless you are British referring to a cigarette


















    fuck, did you know this used to mean to plant corn?




















    hard on








    jack off


    jacking off





    jesus, unless referring to an historical or religious figure

    jesus christ, see above

    jew, unless you are referring to a native or descendant of Israel

















    mick, unless it is the name of someone

























    phuk, people will do anything to get around a prohibition....























    screw, unless it refers to a piece of hardware--no not that kind...













    slag, where I grew up this was gravel.




    snatch, unless you are quickly grabbing something





    Whew! Long list, but all words that have perfectly intelligent and
    creative alternatives that I trust you will use. Thanks! Miki


    George Carlin: Seven Dirty Words

    George Carlin: On Language


    Wealth Bondage: The Voice of the Oppressed Makes Me Hot

    Wednesday, June 20, 2007

    Led Zeppelin: Over the Hills and Far Away

    "Over the Hills and Far Away" by Led Zeppelin

  • Just got the new triple disc live set "How the West Was Won" that Jimmy Page put together from the 1972 Led Zeppelin shows on the West Coast of the USA. Remastered and released (other than bootlegs) for the first time... as a teen I was obssessed with LZ so much that when I got older I put their music aside for awhile--this amazing, powerful collection will probably set me off on a new LZ kick ;)

    Just a Cool Image to Inspire

    Mavis Staples and Michael Franti

    "99 and a 1/2" by Mavis Staples
    Video: Police brutality at the 2007 May Day march in Los Angeles.

  • She is fierce ... thank you!!!

    She is so good we need another one
    "Eyes on the Prize" by Mavis Staples

  • Images from 1960s Civil Rights protests

    "Yell Fire" by Michael Franti and Spearhead
    Performance by a fire dancer

  • "they tell you not to worry about the future..."

    Media Czech: July-Column on Self-Censorship Censored by Nougat Magazine?

    (Repost--so much for our local "alternative" magazine--from Media Czech. Addition to this post: Media Czech would like to make clear that he is "NOT talking about Jennie [the editor], who has been quite awesome througout this whole thing and has apparently left over this." The person instituting the changes to Nougat and acting as a militant censor is Miki, the ad salesperson for the publication.)

    And if you care to indulge me, let me get something off of my chest about that column and Nougat Magazine (Lexington's supposed "indy-alt-arts magazine", if you don't know that)

    As of the time of my writing this tonight, there is a good chance that my editor is going to censor my entire column because of its content. Yes, that would be self-censorship of a column about self-censorship.

    Let me go back a bit to explain the context.

    About a week and a half ago, I pitched an idea to one of my editors about writing a review about my little visit to the Crazy-Ass Creation Museum.

    My editor wrote me back saying that Nougat will no longer make any reference to "controversial" subjects, so they could not do any story on the museum. In fact, she specifically said that Nougat will now refuse to run any article that talks about "religion, gays or abortion".

    I replied, "so you're an alternative independent magazine, yet you refuse to even mention women's reproductive freedom, attacks on science and human reason, and the denial of civil rights for an entire class of citizens? ........ Interesting."

    She responded by saying that they've tried that "edgy" stuff before, but they're now going to cover safe topics so they can get more advertising dollars. Additionally, she said that since they're starting to mail to one Lexington zip code, they could be sued by someone for "corrupting their children".

    I shit you not. wtf???

    An additional inside source told me that advertisers will now pay to have fluff pieces written about them in the magazine. So they are basically seeking to become an advertising flyer.

    Anyway, at this time I was finishing up my Media Czech column about the 100% false myth that gets repeated over and over again as fact in the media without challenge-- that Saddam wouldn't let weapons inspectors in and that's why we had to invade.

    So I scrapped that column. I decided to write the one on self-censorship in the media instead (linked earlier). I considered it a subtle but firm FUCK YOU to my editor.

    Anyway, the latest word is that the editor with the most clout is going to refuse to run it, which is just wonderful irony, don't you think? One person within there is going to fight for it, but we'll see how it works out very very soon.

    Regardless of how this turns out, how fucking pathetic is it that Lexington has no alt-indy magzine worth a shit anymore? (Shit, we can't count Ace, can we?) And how are we going to fucking fix this problem in Lexington? And keep the Main/Limestone/Vine/Upper block from getting leveled so they can build a fucking hotel??

    If you're interested, let's brainstorm, eh?


    The column can be read here:

    Media Czech: The (Sort of) Free Press

    Sunday, June 17, 2007

    James Wagoner: How the Democrats are Funding Abstinence?

    How the Democrats Are Funding Abstinence?
    By James Wagoner
    TomPaine and AlterNet

    In the interest of "avoiding controversy," Democratic House Appropriations Chair David Obey has become one of the largest funders of the famous vast right-wing conspiracy, adding $140 million for abstinence education.

    Back in November of 2006, after the Democrats won control of the House, what kind of odds do you think you would have gotten on the following scenario: With the Democrats in control, the appropriations cycle begins and the first big policy step the Democrats take on domestic reproductive health is to push through a 30 percent increase in abstinence-only-until-marriage programs that prohibit information about condoms and birth control. Oh, and by the way, that increase (to $140 million) is larger than any put forward in the last three years of the Republican-led Congress.

    "Huh?" you might ask.

    Now, let me make the scenario even better -- or worse. What if you were told that just six weeks before the Appropriations Committee met, a major 10-year evaluation that Congress itself had mandated was released showing that abstinence-only programs had no impact on teen behavior? On top of that, what if you were told that the Society of Adolescent Medicine had released a report in 2006 stating that abstinence-only-programs "threaten fundamental human rights to health, information and life?"

    To Read the Rest of Article

    Saul Williams: An Open Letter to Oprah/List of Demands; KRS One and Marley Mal: Hip Hop Lives; Slam Films

    Saul Williams

    An Open Letter to Oprah

    Dear Ms. Winfrey,

    It is with the greatest respect and adoration of your loving spirit that I write you. As a young child, I would sit beside my mother everyday and watch your program. As a young adult, with children of my own, I spend much less time in front of the television, but I am ever thankful for the positive effect that you continue to have on our nation, history and culture. The example that you have set as someone unafraid to answer their calling, even when the reality of that calling insists that one self-actualize beyond the point of any given example, is humbling, and serves as the cornerstone of the greatest faith. You, love, are a pioneer.

    I am a poet.

    Growing up in Newburgh, NY, with a father as a minister and a mother as a school teacher, at a time when we fought for our heroes to be nationally recognized, I certainly was exposed to the great names and voices of our past. I took great pride in competing in my churches Black History Quiz Bowl and the countless events my mother organized in hopes of fostering a generation of youth well versed in the greatness as well as the horrors of our history. Yet, even in a household where I had the privilege of personally interacting with some of the most outspoken and courageous luminaries of our times, I must admit that the voices that resonated the most within me and made me want to speak up were those of my peers, and these peers were emcees. Rappers.
    Yes, Ms. Winfrey, I am what my generation would call "a Hip Hop head." Hip Hop has served as one of the greatest aspects of my self-definition. Lucky for me, I grew up in the 80's when groups like Public Enemy, Rakim, The jungle Brothers, Queen Latifah, and many more realized the power of their voices within the artform and chose to create music aimed at the upliftment of our generation.

    As a student at Morehouse College where I studied Philosophy and Drama I was forced to venture across the street to Spelman College for all of my Drama classes, since Morehouse had no theater department of its own. I had few complaints. The performing arts scholarship awarded me by Michael Jackson had promised me a practically free ride to my dream school, which now had opened the doors to another campus that could make even the most focused of young boys dreamy, Spelman. One of my first theater professors, Pearle Cleage, shook me from my adolescent dream state. It was the year that Dr. Dre's "The Chronic" was released and our introduction to Snoop Dogg as he sang catchy hooks like "Bitches ain't shit but hoes and tricks…" Although, it was a playwriting class, what seemed to take precedence was Ms. Cleages political ideology, which had recently been pressed and bound in her 1st book, Mad at Miles. As, you know, in this book she spoke of how she could not listen to the music of Miles Davis and his muted trumpet without hearing the muted screams of the women that he was outspoken about "man-handling". It was my first exposure to the idea of an artist being held accountable for their actions outside of their art. It was the first time I had ever heard the word, "misogyny". And as Ms. Cleage would walk into the classroom fuming over the women she would pass on campus, blasting those Snoop lyrics from their cars and jeeps, we, her students, would be privy to many freestyle rants and raves on the dangers of nodding our heads to a music that could serve as our own demise.

    Her words, coupled with the words of the young women I found myself interacting with forever changed how I listened to Hip Hop and quite frankly ruined what would have been a number of good songs for me. I had now been burdened with a level of awareness that made it impossible for me to enjoy what the growing masses were ushering into the mainstream. I was now becoming what many Hip Hop heads would call "a Backpacker", a person who chooses to associate themselves with the more "conscious" or politically astute artists of the Hip Hop community. What we termed as "conscious" Hip Hop became our preference for dance and booming systems. Groups like X-Clan, A Tribe Called Quest, Brand Nubian, Arrested Development, Gangstarr and others became the prevailing music of our circle. We also enjoyed the more playful Hip Hop of De La Soul, Heiroglyphics, Das FX, Organized Konfusion. Digable Planets, The Fugees, and more. We had more than enough positivity to fixate on. Hip Hop was diverse.

    I had not yet begun writing poetry. Most of my friends hardly knew that I had been an emcee in high school. I no longer cared to identify myself as an emcee and my love of oratory seemed misplaced at Morehouse where most orators were actually preachers in training, speaking with the Southern drawl of Dr. King although they were 19 and from the North. I spent my time doing countless plays and school performances. I was in line to become what I thought would be the next Robeson, Sidney, Ossie, Denzel, Snipes… It wasn't until I was in graduate school for acting at NYU that I was invited to a poetry reading in Manhattan where I heard Asha Bandele, Sapphire, Carl Hancock Rux, Reggie Gaines, Jessica Care Moore, and many others read poems that sometimes felt like monologues that my newly acquired journal started taking the form of a young poets'. Yet, I still noticed that I was a bit different from these poets who listed names like: Audre Lorde, June Jordan, Sekou Sundiata etc, when asked why they began to write poetry. I knew that I had been inspired to write because of emcees like Rakim, Chuck D, LL, Run DMC… Hip Hop had informed my love of poetry as much or even more than my theater background which had exposed me to Shakespeare, Baraka, Fugard, Genet, Hansberry and countless others. In those days, just a mere decade ago, I started writing to fill the void between what I was hearing and what I wished I was hearing. It was not enough for me to critique the voices I heard blasting through the walls of my Brooklyn brownstone. I needed to create examples of where Hip Hop, particularly its lyricism, could go. I ventured to poetry readings with my friends and neighbors, Dante Smith (now Mos Def), Talib Kwele, Erycka Badu, Jessica Care Moore, Mums the Schemer, Beau Sia, Suheir Hammad…all poets that frequented the open mics and poetry slams that we commonly saw as "the other direction" when Hip hop reached that fork in the road as you discussed on your show this past week. On your show you asked the question, "Are all rappers poets?" Nice. I wanted to take the opportunity to answer this question for you.

    The genius, as far as the marketability, of Hip Hop is in its competitiveness. Its roots are as much in the dignified aspects of our oral tradition as it is in the tradition of "the dozens" or "signifying". In Hip Hop, every emcee is automatically pitted against every other emcee, sort of like characters with super powers in comic books. No one wants to listen to a rapper unless they claim to be the best or the greatest. This sort of braggadocio leads to all sorts of tirades, showdowns, battles, and sometimes even deaths. In all cases, confidence is the ruling card. Because of the competitive stance that all emcees are prone to take, they, like soldiers begin to believe that they can show no sign of vulnerability. Thus, the most popular emcees of our age are often those that claim to be heartless or show no feelings or signs of emotion. The poet, on the other hand, is the one who realizes that their vulnerability is their power. Like you, unafraid to shed tears on countless shows, the poet finds strength in exposing their humanity, their vulnerability, thus making it possible for us to find connection and strength through their work. Many emcees have been poets. But, no, Ms. Winfrey, not all emcees are poets. Many choose gangsterism and business over the emotional terrain through which true artistry will lead. But they are not to blame. I would now like to address your question of leadership.

    You may recall that in immediate response to the attacks of September 11th, our president took the national stage to say to the American public and the world that we would "…show no sign of vulnerability". Here is the same word that distinguishes poets from rappers, but in its history, more accurately, women from men. To make such a statement is to align oneself with the ideology that instills in us a sense of vulnerability meaning "weakness". And these meanings all take their place under the heading of what we consciously or subconsciously characterize as traits of the feminine. The weapon of mass destruction is the one that asserts that a holy trinity would be a father, a male child, and a ghost when common sense tells us that the holiest of trinities would be a mother, a father, and a child: Family. The vulnerability that we see as weakness is the saving grace of the drunken driver who because of their drunken/vulnerable state survives the fatal accident that kills the passengers in the approaching vehicle who tighten their grip and show no physical vulnerability in the face of their fear. Vulnerability is also the saving grace of the skate boarder who attempts a trick and remembers to stay loose and not tense during their fall. Likewise, vulnerability has been the saving grace of the African American struggle as we have been whipped, jailed, spat upon, called names, and killed, yet continue to strive forward mostly non-violently towards our highest goals. But today we are at a crossroads, because the institutions that have sold us the crosses we wear around our necks are the most overt in the denigration of women and thus humanity. That is why I write you today, Ms. Winfrey. We cannot address the root of what plagues Hip Hop without addressing the root of what plagues today's society and the world.

    You see, Ms. Winfrey, at it's worse; Hip Hop is simply a reflection of the society that birthed it. Our love affair with gangsterism and the denigration of women is not rooted in Hip Hop; rather it is rooted in the very core of our personal faith and religions. The gangsters that rule Hip Hop are the same gangsters that rule our nation. 50 Cent and George Bush have the same birthday (July 6th). For a Hip Hop artist to say "I do what I wanna do/Don't care if I get caught/The DA could play this mothaf@kin tape in court/I'll kill you/ I ain't playin'" epitomizes the confidence and braggadocio we expect an admire from a rapper who claims to represent the lowest denominator. When a world leader with the spirit of a cowboy (the true original gangster of the West: raping, stealing land, and pillaging, as we clapped and cheered.) takes the position of doing what he wants to do, regardless of whether the UN or American public would take him to court, then we have witnessed true gangsterism and violent negligence. Yet, there is nothing more negligent than attempting to address a problem one finds on a branch by censoring the leaves.

    Name calling, racist generalizations, sexist perceptions, are all rooted in something much deeper than an uncensored music. Like the rest of the world, I watched footage on AOL of you dancing mindlessly to 50 Cent on your fiftieth birthday as he proclaimed, "I got the ex/if you're into taking drugs/ I'm into having sex/ I ain't into making love" and you looked like you were having a great time. No judgment. I like that song too. Just as I do, James Brown's Sex Machine or Grand Master Flashes "White Lines". Sex, drugs, and rock and roll is how the story goes. Censorship will never solve our problems. It will only foster the sub-cultures of the underground, which inevitably inhabit the mainstream. There is nothing more mainstream than the denigration of women as projected through religious doctrine. Please understand, I am by no means opposing the teachings of Jesus, by example (he wasn't Christian), but rather the men that have used his teachings to control and manipulate the masses. Hip Hop, like Rock and Roll, like the media, and the government, all reflect an idea of power that labels vulnerability as weakness. I can only imagine the non-emotive hardness that you have had to show in order to secure your empire from the grips of those that once stood in your way: the old guard. You reflect our changing times. As time progresses we sometimes outgrow what may have served us along the way. This time, what we have outgrown, is not hip hop, rather it is the festering remnants of a God depicted as an angry and jealous male, by men who were angry and jealous over the minute role that they played in the everyday story of creation. I am sure that you have covered ideas such as these on your show, but we must make a connection before our disconnect proves fatal.

    We are a nation at war. What we fail to see is that we are fighting ourselves. There is no true hatred of women in Hip Hop. At the root of our nature we inherently worship the feminine. Our overall attention to the nurturing guidance of our mothers and grandmothers as well as our ideas of what is sexy and beautiful all support this. But when the idea of the feminine is taken out of the idea of what is divine or sacred then that worship becomes objectification. When our governed morality asserts that a woman is either a virgin or a whore, then our understanding of sexuality becomes warped. Note the dangling platinum crosses over the bare asses being smacked in the videos. The emcees of my generation are the ministers of my father's generation. They too had a warped perspective of the feminine. Censoring songs, sermons, or the tirades of radio personalities will change nothing except the format of our discussion. If we are to sincerely address the change we are praying for then we must first address to whom we are praying.

    Thank you, Ms. Winfrey, for your forum, your heart, and your vision. May you find the strength and support to bring about the changes you wish to see in ways that do more than perpetuate the myth of enmity.

    In loving kindness,

    Saul Williams



    "Hip Hop" by KRS One and Marley Mal

  • Courtesy of The Dialectics a powerful statement of what is Hip Hop

    "List of Demands" by Saul Williams

    "Freestyle Scene" from the film Slam

    Slam Nation (trailer for the film)

    Friday, June 15, 2007

    Roberto J. González: Alberto Gonzales & the Lawyers of the Third Reich

    (Courtesy of Thoughts on the Eve of Apocalypse)

    Alberto Gonzales & the Lawyers of the Third Reich
    By Roberto J. González
    Z Magazine


    Many of the new policies swept away restrictions on the treatment and interrogation of detainees, which shocked a number of prominent people in the U.S. In January 2005 a dozen retired generals and admirals publicly opposed Gonzales’s attorney general nomination, declaring, “U.S. detention and interrogation operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantanamo Bay, and elsewhere…have fostered greater animosity toward the U.S., undermined our intelligence gathering efforts, and added to the risks facing our troops serving around the world.”

    Days later, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee attending Gonzales’s confirmation hearings were stunned by Admiral John Hutson’s testimony. Hutson, a retired U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General, warned, “The strongest nation on earth can ill afford an attorney general who engages in sloppy, shortsighted legal analysis or who doesn’t object when others do.”

    Even more frightening are the words of retired U.S. Army Judge Advocate General Corps, Jordan Paust, who wrote, “Not since the Nazi era have so many lawyers been so clearly involved in international crimes concerning the treatment and interrogation of persons detained during war.” Other legal scholars, including Scott Horton and Sanford Levinson, have made similar observations.

    Bush-Cheney’s Legal Team and the Third Reich Jurists

    Such comments beg a serious question: To what extent are Bush’s legal counselors (including Gonzales) playing a role analogous to that of Nazi jurists in the 1930s? The answer is disturbing. Though there are obvious differences in political ideologies and historical context, there are key similarities:

    1. A “state of emergency” was declared to strengthen executive power. In both cases, government lawyers claimed that extraordinary circumstances required boosting executive power vis-a-vis both Congress (Reichstag in Germany) and the courts. In Germany, a “state of emergency” was triggered by the February 1933 Reichstag fire, which led to President von Hindenberg’s signing of the Reichstag Fire Decree. This allowed the Nazis to suspend civil liberties and detain suspected Communists. A month later the Reich- stag passed the Enabling Act, which gave the chancellor power to enact laws, foreign treaties, and constitutional changes without parliamentary approval.

    In the U.S., the 9/11 attacks triggered a “state of emergency.” Congress passed the “Use of Force Resolution” on September 14 (which ceded war power to the president) and the USA PATRIOT Act on October 26 (which restricted civil liberties). A November 13 executive order proclaiming a state of “extraordinary emergency” announced rules for defining enemy combatants and for forming military commissions not subject to congressional or judicial review.

    2. Political theories provided a legal framework for executive usurpation of power. In the 1920s, influential German legal scholar Carl Schmitt argued that a strong dictatorship more effectively embodies the people’s will than parliamentary democracies, since dictators can act more quickly and decisively. He theorized that a government capable of decisive action must include a dictatorial element in its constitution, which can be triggered in emergencies. This was the tool he crafted for dismantling liberal democracy. (Schmitt later joined the Nazi party and was appointed director of the Union of Nazi Jurists.) This theory became fully developed in the “Führer principle”—the notion that the Führer’s will is the law—and was realized in 1934, when Hitler merged the offices of president and chancellor.

    In the U.S., the unitary executive theory emerged as an important concept among a radical Republican fringe beginning in the 1970s. In a recent article for the New Republic, Jeffrey Rosen documents the development of this theory in recent years, highlighting the post-9/11 transformation of unitary executive theory into practice under the guidance of Gonzales, Addington, Yoo, Bybee, Flanigan, and others.

    3. Parliamentary power was reduced following legal reforms. Parliamentary power in both cases was reduced to a shadow of itself as checks and balances eroded. In Nazi Germany, the impact of the Enabling Act was so severe that by 1934, the Reichstag was effectively a rubber stamp for the Führer.

    In the U.S., Congress has not effectively challenged the expansion of executive power since 9/11. Even the conservative group American Freedom Agenda (founded by four prominent Republicans) has recently expressed concern that “since 9/11, the executive branch has chronically usurped legislative or judicial power, and has repeatedly claimed that the president is the law.”

    4. Officials from the executive exerted pressure on jurists to limit their independence. In Germany Nazi Justice Minister Roland Freisler warned judges in 1934 that, “It is not the role of the judge to alter the existing laws of the nation” because “chaos and anarchy would replace unified leadership” were judges to “decide questions which can be solved only from the superior vantage point of the Führer.”

    In the U.S. Alberto Gonzales has directed polite warnings to the Supreme Court—for example last September when he said, “The Constitution…provides the courts with relatively few tools to superintend military and foreign policy decisions, especially during wartime…. [W]hen courts issue decisions that overturn long-standing traditions…they cannot—and should not—be shielded from criticism…. A proper sense of judicial humility requires judges to keep in mind the institutional limitation of the judiciary.” The U.S. attorney firings are a not-so-polite warning to independently minded federal prosecutors.

    5. Legal advisors argued that an unconventional enemy rendered international laws obsolete. In the case of the Nazis, the German General Staff claimed that Russian “partisans” driven by radical Communist ideology were engaging in terrorist attacks, and therefore not subject to the protections of the 1929 Geneva Conventions or the 1907 Hague Convention.

    In the U.S. Gonzales, Yoo, and others have argued that Al Qaeda and the Taliban (among others) are driven by radical religious ideology and engaged in terrorist attacks and are therefore not subject to the 1949 Geneva Conventions. Consequently, both the Nazi jurists and the Bush legal team viewed international laws as obsolete.

    6. Transformations in law led to state-organized brutality. In both cases, the consequences of legal opinions, memos, and directives led to state-organized practices of brutal interrogation, torture, and extermination of enemies. Secret prisons were a feature of both Nazi and U.S. systems though there are significant differences in scale. The Nazis organized the mass murder of millions of people. By contrast, 108 “detainees” have been reported killed in U.S. custody since 2001, with 34 of those suspected or confirmed homicides resulting from harsh interrogations. (It is important to note, however, that an estimated 655,000 “excess deaths” of Iraqis have occurred since 2003, the vast majority of which were civilian deaths.)

    Points of Difference

    There are, of course, important differences. Nazi lawyers adopted a political ideology cast in terms of “race,” “blood,” and more generally, the “people” (volk). The good of the volk—not of individual Germans—was given precedence over other considerations and Nazi jurists viewed the Führer as the embodiment of the people’s will. This has no analog among the members of the Bush- Cheney legal team.

    Another difference is that in the case of Germany, the Reichstag never recovered independent power until after the war. In the case of the U.S. elections of 2006, the Democratic party succeeded in winning a majority. Whether or not they will be willing to roll back the gains in power made by the executive branch since 2001 remains to be seen.

    So far, the results have been mixed. While the Senate Judiciary Committee has begun investigating the Justice Department’s domestic policies, they are not likely to repeal the Military Commissions Act or reinstate habeas corpus rights for aliens.

    Despite these distinctions, the lengthy list of similarities should concern those who cherish a democratic system of checks and balances. It should also give pause to those who value the rule of international law.

    It would be fair to note that the Bush-Cheney administration represents one end of a relatively narrow political spectrum in the U.S., which at the supposed liberal end is represented by the Clinton administration and “new Democrats” such as John Kerry. It is worth remembering that extraordinary rendition was developed by the Clinton administration in the mid-1990s following the Oklahoma City bombing (even though that tragedy was orchestrated by Americans). Furthermore, the “regime change” policy towards Iraq was first formalized when Clinton signed into law the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998. It was also William Cohen (Clinton’s defense secretary) who noted that the U.S. would make “unilateral use of military power” to ensure “uninhibited access to key markets, energy, supplies, and strategic resources.”

    John Kerry, days before the 2004 presidential elections, told the Boston Globe, “I do not think the United States should join the International Criminal Court…. U.S. officials, including soldiers, should be provided some protection,” presumably from those seeking to apply the Geneva Conventions and the UN Convention against Torture. Never did the “new Democrat” display concern for providing protection to civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, much less to those illegally detained at Guantanamo.

    To Read the Rest of the Essay

    Democracy Now: As Hamas Seizes Full Control of Gaza and US Prepares Further Isolation, What Next for Palestinians?

    As Hamas Seizes Full Control of Gaza and US Prepares Further Isolation, What Next for Palestinians?
    Hosted by Amy Goodman
    Democracy Now

    With Hamas now in full control of the Gaza Strip following a week of deadly violence, Palestinians are bracing for further uncertainty as the Occupied Territories is divided with the other main Palestinian faction Fatah. We go to Gaza for a report from independent journalist Fares Akram, and get analysis from Palestinian filmmaker and journalist Laila el-Haddad and author and Electronic Intifada co-founder Ali Abuminah.

    To Watch/Listen/Read the Report

    Sunday, June 10, 2007

    Media Czech: Fun at the Creation Museum

    Fun at the Creation Museum
    by Media Czech
    Bluegrass Roots

    This Saturday, I made my much anticipated field trip to the Answers in Genesis Creation Museum, a $27 million monstrosity devoted to religious fanaticism, disguised as “science”.

    Two of my heretical friends and I ventured an hour north up I-75 from Lexington, just short of Cincinnati, to discover a museum full of shocking idiocy and unintentional humor.

    Early in the museum, the visitor is given advice on the proper mind frame to have for your visit: “Don’t think, just listen and believe”. As you can see in the picture below, Human Reason is the enemy and God’s Word is the hero. Descartes represents Human Reason, saying “I think, therefore I am”. But God tells us there no need to waste your beautiful mind, for God says “I am that I am”.

    To Read the Rest of this photo-essay

    Saturday, June 09, 2007

    Tactical Reality Dictionary: Cultural Intelligence and Social Control

    (Courtesy of loveecstasycrime)

    From the Introduction:

    Culture is not just the expression of individual interests and orientations, manifested in groups according to rules and habits but it offers identification with a system of values. The construction of cultural memory and establishing a symbolic order through setting up mental and ideological spaces is a traditional practice of cultural engineering; symbolic scenarios generate reality by mediating an implicit political narrative and logic. Maps of the world radiating an aura of objectivity and marking out the ways of life are exploited as cognitive tools. An image of the world as simulation or map of reality can be highly inductive and that explains the investment in cultural representation. From historiography to education, perception is influenced by mental scenarios that establish the symbolic order. According to Edward Bernays, a pioneer of modern public relations, the only difference between education and propaganda is the point of view. "The advocacy of what we believe in is education. The advocacy of what we don�t believe is propaganda." The development in electronic communication and digital media allows for a global telepresence of values and behavioral norms and provides increasing possibilities of controlling public opinion by accelerating the flow of persuasive communication. Information is increasingly indistinguishable from propaganda, defined as "the manipulation of symbols as a means of influencing attitudes". Whoever controls the metaphors controls thought.

    The ubiquitous flow of information is too fast to absorb and creating value in the economy of attention includes the artful use of directing perception to a certain area, to put some aspects in the spotlight in order to leave others in the dark. The increasing focus of attention on the spectacle makes everything disappear that is not within the predefined event horizon. Infosphere manipulation is also implemented through profound penetration of the communications landscape by agents of influence. Large scale operations to manage public opinion, to evoke psychological guiding motivations and to engineer consent or influence policy making have not been exclusive to the 20th century. Evidence of fictitious cultural reconstruction is abundant in the Middle Ages; recent findings on the magnitude of forgeries, the large scale faking of genealogies, official documents and codices attracted broad attention and media interest. In 12th century Europe in particular, pseudo historical documents were widely employed as tools of political legitimacy and psychological manipulation. According to some conservative estimates, the majority of all documents of this period were fictitious. With hindsight, whole empires could turn out to be products of cultural engineering. Moreover, writers such as Martin Bernal, author of "The Fabrication of Ancient Greece", have clearly demonstrated to what extent cultural propaganda and historical disinformation is contained in the work of European scholars. On the basis of racist ideas and a hidden political agenda historic scenarios were fabricated and cultural trajectories distorted in order to support the ideological hegemony of certain European elites.

    The increasing informatization of society and economy is also the source of a growing relevance of culture, the cultural software in the psycho-political structure of influence. During the so-called cold war, too, issues of cultural hegemony were of importance. In publications such as "The Cultural Cold War" and "How America stole the Avant-garde" Frances Stonor Saunders and Serge Guilbaud offer a behind-the-scenes view of the cultural propaganda machine and provide a sense of the extravagance with which this mission was carried out. Interestingly there were efforts to support progressive and liberal positions as bridgehead against the "communist threat". If one chooses to believe some contemporary investigative historical analyses, it seems that there was hardly a major western progressive cultural magazine in the Fifties and Sixties that would not have been founded or supported by a cover organization of intelligence services or infiltrated by such agencies. In the light of this, the claim made by Cuba at the UNESCO world conference in Havana 1998, according to which culture is the "weapon of the 21st century" does not seem unfounded.

    Information Peacekeeping has been described as the "purest form of war" in the extensive military literature on information war. From cold war to code war, the construction of myths, with the intention of harmonizing subjective experience of the environment, is used for integration and motivation in conflict management. While "intelligence" is often characterized as the virtual substitute of violence in the information society, Information Peacekeeping, the control of the psycho-cultural parameters through the subliminal power of definition in intermediation and interpretation is considered the most modern form of warfare.

    Tactical Reality Dictionary

    Also check out:

    World Infromation

    "universal is for everybody" - oprah discovers socialism

    "universal is for everybody" - oprah discovers socialism
    Ads Without Products

    Partial transcript of the show:


    OK this is what I was going to say about the film - that I got it in a way that I hadn't gotten it before. Now don't you love when that happens. When you just go "Ooo! I got it!" Because you know the word "socialism" really stirs up...


    [Scarily] Socialized Medicine...


    Socialized Medicine


    [Scarily] Ooo...

    O: And then when you showed the example of [how] we have socialized activities in this country. The fire department - we don't pay for a fire department. We don't pay for the police department. We don't pay for public schools.


    And it's universal.


    We don't pay for the library. And it's universal - universal is for everybody.




    And so the very idea of extending that to the care of people is really something that I have to honestly say that I hadn't thought about it because I'm one of those people, "I got mine," so I wasn't thinking about who didn't have theirs. Really. Right.


    And we don't expect the fire department to turn a profit. It would be an appalling thought, and the reason we don't is because it's a life and death issue. Well, health care is a life and death issue.




    And that's why turning a profit has to be removed from the system.

    Watch the Video Clip and Read Comments by AWP

    Also check out Jodi Dean's comments at:

    'and that's why turning a profit has to be removed from the system'

    Kevin Sites: Somebody's Watching You

    (Us drones here at Dialogic were outraged by Sherman's politically motivated arrest and incarceration three years ago--it is heartening and inspiring to see this young man's courage and creativity in the face of American fascism. Read this first, original post from 2004: The Strange and Tragic Case of Sherman Austin. Got to the link at the bottom of this post to see a video report, especially the second part, on Austin's earlier arrest and later video activism.)

    Somebody's Watching You: A convicted felon turns cameras on the cops, putting a balance of power, he says, back in the hands of the people.
    Yahoo News

    "I raise my fist because I want that justice; don't get my freedom, gonna have to take my freedom." — Sherman Austin, from his song "Raise the Fist"

    LOS ANGELES - On May Day, 2007, the Los Angeles police made front page news after clashing with protesters in a public park. Images of baton-wielding officers and cowering protesters, journalists among them, renewed an angry debate over police brutality in a city still scarred by the memory of the Rodney King beating.
    Sherman Austin says his own run-ins with the police led him to start Cop Watch.
    Citizen video has left an indelible mark on Los Angeles. The King video is the best-known example, but far from the only one. In 2002, a tourist filmed 16-year-old Donovan Jackson being punched and slammed against a police cruiser in Inglewood. Last year, a UCLA student taped an incident in which another student was hit by a stun gun at a school library. The video spread quickly across the Internet.

    "This type of stuff happens every day in L.A.," says Sherman Austin, founder of Cop Watch LA, an activist group that was quick to post images and clips of the May Day incident. "It's just a coincidence sometimes there's a video camera around to videotape."

    The LAPD disagrees, contending that the average person doesn't always consider the situation that led to the police confrontation in the first place. A spokesperson for the department says the LAPD averages 1.2 uses of force per 100 arrests, which he claims is one of the lowest in the country.

    Tools of the trade
    Cop Watch LA received wide attention last year when it posted a video of an alleged gang member being punched in the face by one LAPD officer while another officer knelt on his throat. The disturbing video has been viewed more than 100,000 times on YouTube and Cop Watch LA's site.

    Ironically, Austin's tool of choice, the Internet, is the same one that landed him in jail several years ago. He was convicted of distributing information about explosives — he argues that all he did was link to a page that included text copied from Abbie Hoffman's anarchist manifesto, "Steal This Book" — and now, as part of his probation, he isn't allowed to touch a computer until August 2007.

    He maintains the Cop Watch LA website through instructions to other members, writing out computer code on paper and napkins.

    To Read the Rest of the Profile and to Watch a Video Report

    Wednesday, June 06, 2007

    Open Source with Christopher Lydon

    Open Source with Christopher Lydon

    Online radio show (also can be heard on NPR) that has a wide and fascinating range of subjects, complete with extra readings/viewings linked at the site, and that encourages listener discussions.

    Examples of recent shows:

    Hillary Clinton's War Vote
    Wednesday, June 06
    Norman Mailer’s ‘Long View’
    Tuesday, June 05
    The Plague: Camus’s Fable in Our Time
    Monday, June 04
    Deploying. Again.
    Thursday, May 31
    Baseball: The Dominican Pastime
    Wednesday, May 30
    South Africa in Context: The Story of Mac Maharaj
    Tuesday, May 29
    William James: Son, Brother, Hero
    Monday, May 28
    Notes From New Orleans
    Thursday, May 24
    Passion: Libraries
    Wednesday, May 23
    The Varieties of Faith and Reason, Take Two
    Tuesday, May 22
    Hitchens v. God
    Monday, May 21
    Comey’s Dissent at Justice
    Thursday, May 17
    Mortgage Meltdown
    Wednesday, May 16
    Equity: More Private, Less Public?
    Tuesday, May 15
    The Spread of HIV in Africa
    Monday, May 14
    The Gold Rush for Financial Information
    Thursday, May 10
    The New Age of Old Age
    Wednesday, May 09
    Ishmael Beah: Boy Soldier
    Tuesday, May 08
    Re-Broadcast: Japanese Baseball
    Monday, May 07
    France: The Sarko vs. Ségo Prism
    Thursday, May 03
    Iraq: Military Self-Critique
    Wednesday, May 02

    Miles Ogborn: Power and Discourse

    Understanding culture in terms of relationships of power is what lies behind the argument that questions of meaning, interpretation, and identity are political issues, and that we can talk about ‘cultural politics’ or ‘the politics of identity.’ Power is often defined in terms of one set of people exerting power over another set of people, or over space, or nature, or the landscape in order to control them and their meanings in various ways. This ‘negative’ definition of power is useful in that it makes it clear that there are different interests and that they can come into conflict (often over cultural issues). It also raises the question of the forms of resistance (again often cultural) which contest the exercise of power. However, we might also understand power as being ‘positive.’ This means that power is not just about preventing things from happening, it is also the capacity to make things happen. Here power is part of all sorts of forms of social and cultural construction. Power is involved in constituting identities (including those of the individuals or social groups who are understood to ‘hold’ power), social relations (such as the relationships between men and women), and cultural geographies (such as the definition of national identities, or of ‘East’ and ‘West’ in Orientalism). (9-10)

    Discourse is a way of thinking about the relationship between power, knowledge and language. It is a concept most associated with the work of the French theorist Michel Foucault, who understood discourses as the frameworks that define the possibilities for knowledge. As such, a discourse exists as a set of ‘rules’ (formal or informal, acknowledged or unacknowledged) which determine the sorts of statements that can be made. These ‘rules’ determine what the criteria for truth are, what sort of things can be talked about, and what sorts of things can be said about them. One of the most carefully worked through and explicitly geographical examples is Edward Said’s (1978) Orientalism where he sets out the discourse (which he calls ‘Orientalism’) through which ‘the West’ has made statements about ‘the East,’ defining the sorts of things that get said about ‘the oriental mind,’ ‘the oriental landscape,’ or ‘oriental despotism,’ and defining itself as the opposite in the process. This raises two important points. First, that the aim of the idea of discourse is to suggest that there are many discourses, none of which simply tells the truth about the world. All of these discourses are ways in which our knowledge and language create the world as well as reflecting it … . The second point is that that the discourse that prevails is a matter of power not simply truth. Since discourses define the way things are understood, even whether things can be understood to exist or not, then part of any struggle for power is a struggle over language and knowledge, over discourse. (11)

    Ogborn, Miles. “Knowledge is Power: Using Archival Research to Interpret State Formation.” Cultural Geography in Practice. Ed. Alison Blunt, et al. Oxford UP, 2003: 9-22.

    Sunday, June 03, 2007

    Affinities: A Journal of Radical Theory, Culture, and Action

    Affinities: A Journal of Radical Theory, Culture, and Action

    "Affinities is a web-based journal that focuses on groups, movements, and communities that set out to construct sustainable alternatives to the racist, hetero-sexist system of liberal-capitalist nation-states. We are interested in questions such as: What kind of experiments are out there, beyond the state and corporate forms? How are they working, what obstacles are they encountering? How do we build lasting culture(s) of resistance and (re-)construction? As one of the goals of Affinities is to acknowledge and strengthen the links that exist between academic, activist, and artistic communities, we are committed to publishing academic and activist writing, as well as other forms of radical cultural production."

    Friday, June 01, 2007

    Elisabeth Kübler-Ross: The most beautiful people...

    The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths.

    These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep, loving concern.

    Beautiful people do not just happen.

    --Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, On Death and Dying

    I have always believed that we see ourselves in the reflection of others and understanding what we find to be beautiful/pleasant (and ugly or distasteful) says a lot about who we are as a person.

    I think the focus of the quote is not just any person who makes it through a hard difficult time, but those that do so and then continue to be a positive force in the world (perhaps a person who was abused somehow, but doesn't let that completely ruin their perspective allowing them continue to do positive things to help others).

    We all have suffered in some way, it is what we do with that suffering that ultimately defines us...

    I've been thinking about all of this... a lot ...

    Greg Palast: Armed Madhouse